There are very few players that are considered a “sure thing” in the crapshoot known as the NFL Draft. It’s impossible to predict the value of a player coming out of college, but everyone seemed to be dead set that Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck was the real deal. The Colts, despite rumors that they were going to select Robert Griffin III, selected Luck with the first overall pick in the strange 2012 NFL Draft.
The Colts thrust Luck into the starting position right away, having just come off of a 2-14 season with not much talent around him. Through nine weeks in the 2016 NFL season, Luck has posted a career record of 39-25 with 271.9 yards per game, 118 touchdowns and 62 interceptions. Those are some very impressive numbers, especially when you consider the weapons that Luck has had surrounding him.
Outside of T.Y. Hilton and a couple of solid pass catching tight ends, Luck has had to pick from a slew of aging receivers and no-namers to throw the ball to. So in his short career, who are the worst receivers and tight ends that Luck has had to work with? Here are the 15 worst of the bunch, who combined to be either have a lack of production or completely disappointed despite expectations.
15 Griff Whalen
There were never really any big expectations for Griff Whalen, as he was hardly a standout at Stanford for four years before the Colts signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2012. The Colts likely signed Whalen to help Luck feel more comfortable with his college teammates, which included Coby Fleener (who just didn’t make this list).
14 Chester Rogers
It might be a little too early to point out Chester Rogers for the list, especially with the expectations not being set too high for the wideout. Rogers was a member of Grambling State’s football team in college and the Colts picked up his contract after nobody selected him in the 2016 NFL Draft.
13 Da'Rick Rogers
Da’Rick Rogers decided to skip his senior season as Tennessee Tech and had a good showing at the 2013 NFL Combine, only to go undrafted. The Bills would pick up Rogers for a brief period, but released him during training camp. The Colts picked Rogers up for their practice squad and then promoted him to the active roster in November 2013. Rogers would play in just five games, starting three, with Andrew Luck and the Colts, posting 14 receptions and 192 yards.
12 LaVon Brazill
Not only did the Colts pick up Andrew Luck in the 2012 NFL Draft, they tried to surround him with as many weapons as possible. Not only were tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen the next two selections after Luck, they then drafted T.Y. Hilton and eventually LaVon Brazill in the sixth round out of Ohio.
11 Weslye Saunders
The Colts have done a decent job of providing Andrew Luck with some solid tight ends, but not all of them have been hits. Weslye Saunders was yet another undrafted player on the list so far and he was a former member of the South Carolina Gamecocks program. Saunders was picked up by the Pittsburgh Steelers for his rookie season in 2011, where he actually got to start six games, but posted four catches and 29 yards in 16 total games.
10 Devin Street
While a lot of guys on the list so far haven’t even been drafted, that’s not the case for Devin Street. Street came out of Pitt and was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, where he would put up a grand total of just nine catches and 132 yards with a touchdown. Street would land on the New England practice squad for just two weeks before the Colts decided to add him to the roster for 2016 on September 21.
9 Josh Cribbs
At one point, there was no denying that Josh Cribbs was a very good kick returner. The former undrafted free agent spent his first eight seasons in the NFL with Cleveland, where he would amass more than 10,000 kick return yards and 2,154 punt return yards. He would also prove to be a somewhat capable receiver in 2011, posting 41 catches and 518 yards. Then, in 2013 with the Jets, Cribbs would get just 63 reception yards.
8 Dominique Jones
Dominique Jones was yet another guy that was brought in during Andrew Luck’s rookie campaign of 2012. Jones had went undrafted the year before out of Shepherd, and played with the Sacramento Mountain Lions of the United Football League. The Colts would pick up Jones’s contract in 2012, allowing him to play in four games and then he would play in six games for Indianapolis in 2013.
7 Nathan Palmer
If you like random 2012 guys that came in once the Colts cleared house, you’ve really come to the right place. Nathan Palmer is yet another one of those players from the first Andrew Luck season, as the Colts pulled him from the 49ers practice squad. The former Northern Illinois product would play in five games for the Colts at receiver, getting four targets.
6 Donnie Avery
Now we’re getting into the group of guys that did not meet expectations (since there weren’t any for poor Nathan Palmer). Donnie Avery is the first of that group, who had brought some excitement after his first two seasons with the Rams in which he posted 100 receptions and 1,263 yards to go with eight touchdowns. Avery was a Titan for the 2011 season, not starting a game, but then the Colts would sign him to be a starter in...you guessed it...2012.
5 Donte Moncrief
The Colts were looking to retool their wide receiver corps in 2014, so they selected Donte Moncrief out of Ole Miss in the third round. Moncrief was expected to crack the starting lineup somewhat early, but he would start just two games in his rookie season. He hauled in 32 catches for 444 yards and three touchdowns, at least providing a little hope for the Colts in the next season.
4 Phillip Dorsett
While Donte Moncrief has been a mild disappointment for the Colts so far, Phillip Dorsett is starting to look like a bust already. Dorsett didn’t crack the starting lineup once in 2015 despite being a first round draft pick, catching just 18 passes on 39 targets for a total of 225 yards and one touchdown. Colts fans were scratching their heads with the selection in the first place and his rookie season didn’t help.
3 Darrius Heyward-Bey
Before the Colts had even signed Darrius Heyward-Bey (or even thought about it), he was being labeled as a bust when the Raiders drafted him seventh overall in 2009. The tides started to turn for Heyward-Bey in his third season when he posted 975 receiving yards, but that would be his career high by far. In 2012, he would have 606 yards and five touchdowns when the Colts offered him a one year deal worth $2.5 million.
2 Hakeem Nicks
Boy, did Hakeem Nicks have us all fooled there for quite a bit. Nicks was a former first round pick out of North Carolina in 2009 by the Giants. In just six starts during his rookie year, Nicks would get 790 yards and then follow it up with a pair of seasons of over 1,000 yards. Nicks would then regress in 2012 and put up a decent season in 2013 with 896 yards. The Colts were hoping he could rebound in 2014, signing him to a one year and $4 million deal.
1 Andre Johnson
If this were a list of the best receivers that Andrew Luck has ever had and you looked at their entire careers, Andre Johnson would be toward the top of the list. However, we are judging this based solely off of his time in Indianapolis, which was less than stellar. After being released by the Texans, the Colts decided to sign Andre Johnson to a three year contract worth $21 million.
By that time, Johnson was already 34 years old, though he was just one season removed from a 1,407 yard campaign. What the Colts paid all that money for was just one season where Johnson collected 503 yards and 41 catches. No, he did not miss any games, those were his numbers over a 16 game span (with 14 starts). The Colts would then release Johnson, who played just a handful of games more with Tennessee before calling it quits.
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